(AP/WANE) — With the rail industry relying on longer and longer trains to cut costs, the Biden administration is handing out $570 million in grants to help eliminate many railroad crossings in 32 states.
The grants announced Monday will contribute to building bridges or underpasses at the sites of more than three dozen crossings that delay traffic and sometimes keep first responders from where help is desperately needed.
In some places, trains routinely stretching more than 2 miles (3.2 km) long can block crossings for hours, cutting off access to parts of towns and forcing pedestrians to attempt the dangerous act of climbing through trains that could start moving without warning.
“We see countless stories of people unable to get to work on time, goods being blocked from getting where they need to be and first responders being delayed by these these trains that can be slowed or stopped — even seeing images of children having to crawl between or under freight trains in order to get to school,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said.
In Wells County, up to $1,114,261 is being made available to help with a project to close three rail crossings on Norfolk Southern’s line by realigning the Hoosier Highway.
The project will result in continuous vehicular travel flow, reduced delay, and reduced conflict points between rail and vehicles/trucks.
Wells County Highway Engineer Nate Rumschlag said another goal of the project is to improve safety for the roughly 1,000 people who have been affected by trains in Wells County.
“We’re starting to see the reality of some of the planning that has been done in Wells County,” Rumschlag said.
Rumschlag hopes construction on the project can start in either late 2024 or early 2025.